Do Pedestrians Have the Right of Way in North Carolina?

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You can never draw any assumptions about who was to blame after a pedestrian accident. The law in North Carolina is different based on varying parts of the roadway and who has the right of way.

It may not always be clear who was in the wrong after an accident involving a pedestrian, no matter what the insurance company says. They often try to take advantage of North Carolina laws that are generous to them to deny your claim or make your life harder. When that happens, you need a legal professional to be your guide.

Reach out to our Jacksonville, NC, pedestrian accident lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys today to discuss your case.

North Carolina Pedestrian Laws

The pedestrian has the right of way when they are crossing at a marked crosswalk in the middle of the road. The driver must stop and yield to the pedestrian when they have already entered the crosswalk. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

An unmarked crosswalk is an extension of the existing sidewalks, which are usually located at an intersection. If there are walk signals, they will control when the pedestrian is able to cross with the right of way. The driver must stop if a pedestrian has the right of way at an unmarked crosswalk. When there are no traffic signals, the pedestrian has the right of way and an unmarked crosswalk when there are imaginary lines on the sidewalk.

When do pedestrians have the right of way?

Pedestrians do not always have the right of way under every circumstance. If a pedestrian is crossing at a traffic signal, they must obey traffic laws just as anyone else would. They must only cross when they have the right of way, which is when they have a green walk signal.

If a pedestrian is crossing when they do not have the right away, the driver should blow their horn to alert the pedestrian of their presence. If the pedestrian still does not stop, then the driver must.

Drivers and pedestrians have a shared obligation to look out for the safety of people who are walking. However, drivers are often not aware of pedestrian safety laws and measures. Even if they are, they are more focused on getting where they need to go and not worrying about pedestrians.

The police officer may show up at the scene after the pedestrian accident and assess what happened. The officer may issue a citation to the driver if they believe that the motorist broke the law. Depending on what happened, the motorist could even face criminal charges for a pedestrian accident.

The Insurance Company Tries to Distribute Blame for a Pedestrian Accident

The insurance company may try to blame the pedestrian for the accident. They know that they would likely be on the hook for a significant amount of money because pedestrian accident injuries are more serious than those sustained in a motor vehicle crash.

North Carolina has a stringent law that helps insurance companies and accident victims. The state uses the doctrine of pure contributory negligence, which means that the accident victim cannot recover financially for their injury if they bear any part of the blame. Thus, the insurance company is looking for a reason to blame you in any way that they can so they can avoid paying you entirely.

The best thing that you can do is hire an experienced pedestrian accident attorney for your case. Your lawyer’s job may be every bit as much about defending you as it is about showing that the other driver was at fault.

The insurance company may use contributory negligence as a defense in itself. If they have any evidence that could show that you were partially at fault, the burden would then shift to you to show why you were not. An attorney may need to gather evidence that proves what you did every bit as much as they need to demonstrate what the driver did.

Your lawyer could use the following evidence to show both that the driver was at fault and that you were not:

  • Eyewitness testimony from people who saw the accident
  • Pictures of the scene of the accident
  • Dash cam or traffic camera footage
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert

An attorney may also use the police report to show the insurance company that you did nothing wrong. The police report is not necessarily inclusive evidence, but it may be an indicator of what testimony in a court case could show.

You Can and Should Fight Back When You Have Been Blamed

The driver’s insurance company may make a liability determination after the accident once you have filed your claim. They can make a determination all they want, but it is not legally binding on you. They merely represent their policyholder who was involved in the accident.

The insurance company may accept liability and decide to make you a settlement offer. They could deny the claim entirely when they believe that you bear even a fraction of the blame.

If the insurance company persists in wrongfully and unfairly blaming you for the pedestrian accident, you can file a lawsuit in court against the responsible driver, which the insurance company would be forced to defend. They have a duty to defend their policyholder throughout the legal process.

A jury, which does not have the same financial conflicts as the insurance company, would hear the evidence that your attorney presents and determine whether the driver is liable. If the answer is yes, the jury would award you damages based on your proof of your condition.

Contact a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer in North Carolina Today

Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys can represent you in a pedestrian accident case. Our lawyers will be fierce advocates when the situation calls for it, including pushing back on the insurance company if they are wrongfully blaming you for the accident.

You can speak to one of our attorneys during a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, you can send us a message through our website, or you can call us today at 910-405-7751.

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